Diamond Select Toys celebrates the 20th anniversary of their Mini-Mates action figure line with a box set that pays tribute to the Marvel animated series What If… as seen on the Disney Plus streaming service.
Mini-Mates are two inch tall, articulated figures that have been designed under a multitude of licenses, from Universal Monsters and Nightmare Before Christmas to Kill Bill characters. I’m always astounded at how the simple body form can be transformed to so accurately convey a character.
Monogram International Inc. is noted for their years of creating unique licensed collectibles and novelties, and I’ve been tracking their creations over many Toy Fairs. Their bust banks are particular favorites of mine, and they have created many ComicCon exclusives in this range. Antman and Loki are stand out additions to the line this year.
Photographing the varied items at their 2015 New York International Toy Fair booth, I quickly became enamored with Monogram’s soon to be released series of 3D Foam Figural Key Rings. Licensing spans the Marvel, Disney, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and DC universes. The 2” characters have a nice chunky feel, soft but not “squishy.” Their super cute wide-eyed designs are fun and inventive and should make them popular with both youngsters and collectors of stylized characters.
Each keyring series includes 9 standard characters and 2 exclusive figures. Marvel Series 1 includes, Spider-Man, Hulk, Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Star-Lord. The two “chase” characters illustrated on the bag in silhouette appear to be variants of Iron Man and Rocket. They will be sold as foil pack “blind bags.” Inside each package the characters are wrapped in cardboard to discourage the “touchy feely” collectors from trying to divine their purchase in advance. It keeps things honest and trading brisk.
The Monogram folks were so kind as to offer Ken Pierce (PiercingMetal.Com) and I a mystery bag each, and of course we opened them immediately. I was happy to find Galaxy Guardian Rocket Raccoon in mine, especially since he was not included in the Monogram display.
Weight of the Universe…
Monogram also unveiled a very early look at their Marvel Avengers paperweight. Shown in unpainted prototype it’s an out of the ordinary collector’s piece, nice for the desk of that comic obsessed executive you know. Standing atop the Avengers logo, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Ultron and the Hulk are all nicely sculpted ranging at what seemed to be 4-5 inches tall. Although not shown at Toy Fair, likely still in the sculpt stage, the company’s product art illustrates The Abomination and Loki as part of the set as well.
Though not originally a fan of the mystery box or blind bag collectible model, I’ve come to understand its strengths. Commercially the “thrill of the chase” for your favorite characters certainly drives sales but psychologically adds a layer of fun via anticipation and surprise. That’s not such a bad thing for kids to experience in a world of mostly instant gratification. A personal analogy is how much I enjoyed chasing after 45 RPM’s with Non-LP B-Sides by my favorite musical artists. Now those “bonus” tracks are a click away for download and not truly special at all.
Boogie-Woogie Battle Call…
Those looking forward to the January 6, 2015 two hour ABC Television premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter, the Agents of SHIELD mini-series spin off, should also be aware of the concurrently launching Marvel Comics series Operation S.I.N..
Shake, Rattle and Damage Control…
While the television series tells the story of Carter’s immediate post World War II exploits in the S.S.R.(Strategic Scientific Reserve), Operation S.I.N. #1 will feature a 1950’s cold war scenario that pits Peggy Carter and Howard Hughs analog Howard Stark (Iron Man’s Dad for the uninitiated) against burgeoning H.Y.D.R.A. forces. They’re all on a collision course to recover powerful alien tech that is planted far behind the Iron Curtain.
We Were Promised Jet-Packs…
S.H.I.E.L.D. fans will be happy to know that “The Man on the Wall”, alien fighting hero Woodrow McCord Jr. will also feature prominently in the new book. His origins were revealed last October in Marvel’s Original S.I.N. Annual and now we’ll presumably learn how he first became connected with Howard Stark.
Written by Kathryn Immonen, with interior art by Rich Ellis, Marvel’s Operation S.I.N. teaser panels promise some butt kicking action and Bondian espionage. Find it in your local comic shoppe on January 7, 2015.
I, for one, am really enjoying how Marvel Entertainment is handling their cross-media plotline on the road to Avengers: The Age of Ultron, with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show expanding the Kree technology story, while Agent Carter will fill in the historical backstory of the pre-Nick Fury agency.
I’m thinking we’ll need Disney Infinity 2.0 Carter and Stark figures to do some video game stealth work.
Thanks to Ken Pierce of the PiercingMetal website for the heads up on this one.
The Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 Summit will be held on August 16 & 17 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The schedule is listed here, in USA Pacific Time, and you can virtually attend via live streaming.
Questions for the Saturday afternoon panel discussion can be submitted via Twitter using #DisneyInfinity. Use the same hash-tag to vote for your favorite Toy Box 2.0 creations in a competitive showcase/playthrough on Sunday.
What It Is…
As reported earlier the Disney Infinity 2.0 platform will introduce the superheroes of the Marvel Universe into the collector toy/digital game world with some beautiful character sculpts and challenging screen play.
One of Infinity’s strong suits has been the Toy Box environment, a virtual game forge that facilitates the creation of your own worlds to play in. It’s a concept that has been embraced by fans who have submitted “hundreds of thousands of Toy Boxes,” according to John Blackburn VP and General Manager of Avalanche Software. Taking feedback from the “active and vocal” Infinity community, Disney and Avalanche have announced major enhancements to Toy Box’s capabilities.
While free ranging in an environment of your own creation was fun the addition of more structured game play is welcome, as are easier to use creative tools, and the ability to design unique interiors and go inside structures. It’s important to note that all your previous builds will be usable and editable in Toy Box 2.0, as will all game characters, and power discs.
Here is the breakdown of Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 features:
Toy Box Tools
Procedural generation of content can now be accessed and harnessed through two primary systems:
• Creators – Tools that the player can place into the world in real-time, and a themed arrangement will be procedurally build that world within minutes.
• Builders – Non-player characters (NPCs) that a player can drop into their Toy Box to build out detailed worlds.
Players can use these pre-built Toy Box Games ranging from battle arenas to race tracks and customize them using the items saved in their personal Toy Boxes.
Toy Box Games
The Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes Starter Pack will feature Toy Box Game discs, which players can use to access standalone game modes including Tower Defense and Dungeon Crawler games that any character from across the Disney Infinity universe can play.
Players can now create their own interior levels where they can build rooms and theme them to their favorite characters. Unlock hundreds of furniture pieces and decorations based on iconic Disney and Marvel properties. New Toys
New toys allow players to make more detailed games with beginnings, endings, winners, losers, result screens and virtually any type of game including races, battles, collection-based games, defense games or exploration adventures.
• Challenge Maker – Allows players to create any type of game, including structured games within the Toy Box.
• Toy Box Game Maker – Allows creators to restrict core actions typically available in the Toy Box, such as the use of the magic wand.
• Text Creator – Allows builders to write their own text bubbles in the Toy Box. All text is filtered through a safe chat server for friendly writing.
• Creativi-Toys – More than 75 new Creativi-Toys allow players to customize their Toy Boxes even further.
The introductory Toy Box will now be filled with Game Play Hosts who are available to assign missions and answer questions, as needed. Players are free to learn and explore on their own, but can ask a host for help and they’ll even be rewarded with extra goodies once missions are completed.
Updated Online Services
A Newsfeed screen has been added to the main menu, giving the user an overview of the new online services:
• Increased Storage – Storage for locally saved Toy Boxes in a player’s private cloud has increased from 100 to 300 Toy Boxes. Support for downloadable published Toy Boxes has increased from 100 to 100,000 Toy Boxes.
• Like and Search User-Generated Toy Boxes – Players can “like” their favorite published Toy Boxes and find others that are well received. Quickly search through the published Toy Boxes using categories (developer picks, most liked, most downloaded, newest, trending, all Toy Boxes and Disney 1.0), and further refine the search with filters (genre, character required, ability required and Toy Box Games).
• Sharing with Friends – Share Toy Boxes with friends directly using cloud storage.
I’m can’t wait to begin battling as The Mighty Thor against Loki and the Frost Giants on the streets of NYC when the 2.0 Edition launches later this season and I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at building an Asgardian game space with Toy Box 2.0.